“This is a very serious matter, which is why I wore my Anna Wintour wig,” said Heklina at a Tuesday press conference announcing a renewed effort to allow alcohol sales until as late as 4 a.m. in some California communities. State senator Scott Wiener’s previous attempt to move last call to 4 a.m. died out in an appropriations committee, but on Tuesday Wiener tabbed bar owner drag queens Heklina and Honey Mahogany, along with several other bigwigs from the hospitality industry, to announce he was proposing the bill again.
“Last year we had huge support for extending hours for bars and restaurants, and this renewed effort builds on that support,” Sen. Wiener said, noting that two-thirds of the California state senate voted in favor of his previous late-night last call bill. “Nightlife is central to the culture and economy of many of our cities, and they should be empowered to choose to extend alcohol sales hours if it makes sense for that city.”
There are a few changes to this new version of the bill, most notably that this one limits the 4 a.m. option to just six cities — San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, and Long Beach. This would help these cities compete for conventions and conferences with late-night booze U.S. cities like Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago,and New York City.
“I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is when visitors come from New York and Chicago, and we have to kick them out on the street at 2 a.m.,” Heklina said at the press conference.
Wiener’s new bill also contains some minor tinkering, like making the proposal a pilot program that would be reassessed after five years, in hopes of getting the votes to pass a later last call.
“People often complain about the lack of late night options for dining,” said executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Gwyneth Borden. “The economics just simply don’t work with the closing times being required as they are. People often have to choose, ‘Do I eat or do I drink?’”
The new bill also calls for additional assessments from law enforcement and the California Highway Patrol to address public safety concerns. “States that allow for later than 2 a.m. alcohol service have lower rates of alcohol-related traffic death than states that don’t,” pointed out former state senator Mark Leno, who also happens to be running for mayor of San Francisco.
Sen. Wiener’s proposal would not require these six cities to sell alcohol until 2 a.m., it would simply give them the option if they choose. “San Francisco is a world-class city,” added co-owner if the Stud Honey Mahogany. “Which is why we need to adopt new thinking about this law.”